I used to think that eating healthy as a family meant not eating certain foods but it is much easier to think about new foods that you can eat! You never know, you might some of your new favorite recipes by trying to eat healthier! That is why I have come up with five things that me and my family have done that have helped us have better, and healthier, family meals.
Plan Your Meals
If you have a large family that has lots of after-school activities, social activities, or sporting events, odds you are have a difficult time trying to get the whole family to eat a meal. On days when everyone is busy I usually end up getting take out or cooking a boxed meal because it quick. Unfortunately, this used to be most night for us. Planning out your meals is vitally important to eating healthy.
You don’t need a lot of time to make some yummy and quick meals! It just takes a little preparation.
Take an hour this Sunday to plan out what your family is going to eat for the next week. Don’t forget those school lunches! You could even let your kids help out by saying what their favorite snacks are (Apples? Grapes? Oranges? String Cheese?) Also be sure to schedule in your dinners. Do you need to make extra food the night before so you have leftovers? Should I put in a crockpot for the evening? Do I need to thaw anything this afternoon?
It may take some practice but this is the most important part to eating healthy as a family.
Adapt Your Family’s Favorite Meals
One of the best ways you can start eating better is by adapting your favorite meals. This can include switching from butter to oil, using a little less cheese, substituting fatty meats for leaner meats (or even better fatty meats for beans or lentils). Some of my favorite things that I have done that I think have made a big difference is using 1% milk instead of whole milk. Your family won’t notice a huge difference but your bodies sure will. Instead of deep frying foods try using an air fryer. There are some great air fryer reviews online if you looking to buy one. Try putting extra veggies in your casseroles! You could also swap out regular pasta for whole grain pasta or simply cut back on how much you make if you want portion control.
Involve the Kids
Kids are way more likely to eat something that they have helped to make. Even better, your older kids could try making some meals themselves and you will help out! For your younger kids, you could have them try mixing batter, watching for water to boil, or help season your foods. Try and get your kids to help with the vegetables! That has made the biggest difference in my family.
Watch what you add!
Butter, salt, seasonings. You know what I mean. They add extra calories but no good nutrients! Seriously, try cutting back on how much butter you put on bread or how much oil you fry with. I have found that most recipes don’t require as much butter or oil as they say they do and you can rarely tell the difference. The Food Network has done some great content on this topic.
Try Different Proteins
Choosing different proteins was the hardest thing for me to do but I found that I some amazing recipes by doing it. For example, instead of an all meat pastas I have found some great lentil pastas. Beef can often be substituted for chicken and chicken can often be substituted for fish! Vegetables and beans can add protein, fiber, and other nutrients to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Bonus: Eat the Rainbow
Little kids love this one. Eat the rainbow! If your dinner or lunch is all the same color, it probably means you are missing something. Look for different colors at the supermarket and you will find some fun additions to your meals.